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What are the Risks of Breaching Planning Consent?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Amateur developers such as individuals extending their houses are often surprised about the restrictions they face when making changes to their own property.

Planning laws generally aim to balance the interest of the applicant with the wider public interest. There is plenty of debate about whether the planning rules are overly restrictive but it is advisable that individuals do not test planning authorities by building beyond them.

Gaining an understanding of the background to the planning rules is time well spent; it can help you make decisions and avoid major pitfalls when undertaking a building project.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990

The starting point is that development of land is allowed unless it is demonstrated that such development harms the public interest.

The rules regulating land development in the UK are set out in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. To find out if planning permission is required, it is advisable to send a letter to a Local Council outlining the development project. If permission is required, it will be necessary to prepare planning application.

If a local authority refuses the planning application, an individual has a right to appeal that decision. However, the nature of the appeal system means that there can be delays in the investigation of complaints and resolution of cases so individuals should be prepared for prolonged postponements of their proposed development.

Breaches of Planning Rules

A breach will occur where a development breaches one of the conditions stated in the initial planning permission, where a development is carried out that has been rejected or a development is carried out without planning permission.

The main planning sanctions are the Enforcement Notice, a Planning Contravention Notice and a Breach of Condition Notice.

In initiating any form of enforcement a Council must take into account such considerations as the extent of the reduction of public enjoyment of land and the extent of the use of land which is protected in public interest.

The Risks of Planning Breaches

There are both legal and financial risks associated with ignoring planning laws, and therefore it is important to take any regulations and conditions attached to planning permission seriously.

Although it is not a criminal offence to carry out development without planning permission (the regulations aim to remedy the harm, rather than punish individuals), as noted above, there are certain sanctions which can be imposed which are likely to incur costs.

For example, the condition notice will usually specify certain steps to be taken to fulfil condition for development. Failure to comply with such notice is likely to result in the paying of a fine. There is also no right to appeal against such notice.

Additional legal risks may arise when there are developments which involve advertising or where there are changes made to special categories of ‘listed’ buildings.

A Case in Point

In 2011, Mr Syeed Raza Shah was given a planning permission to extend the floor space of his bungalow in Barton-Le-Clay. However, when it transpired that the increase amounted to 200% increase in floor space rather than 45% stipulated in the consent, the local Council refused to grant retrospective planning permission.

Mr Shah denied that the floor space had been increased by 200% and claimed that only minor adjustments were made to the planning consent. Nevertheless, following numerous complaints from neighbours, the Council found that the extensions built by Mr Shah amounted to a ‘new building’, which was impermissible, and issued an enforcement order requiring that it be demolished.

For specialist advice contact Peter Gourri today by email or telephone 0207 611 4848.

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